Dukwana testifies on multimillion rand FS asbestos deal

Former Free State MEC for Economic Development, Mxolisi Dukwana, labels the controversial R255 million asbestos deal the province entered into in 2014 as nothing more than a heist.

Dukwana has so far gone into much detail on the deal during his testimony at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Wednesday (August 28). The deal, which was awarded to the joint venture, Diamond Hill-Blackhead Consulting, by the Free State Department of Human Settlements in 2014 for the audit of 300 000 low cost houses in the province for asbestos roofs was initially flagged for alleged procurement irregularities by opposition parties in 2015 and more recently, probed by journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh in his headline-grabbing investigative book, Gangster State.

It is alleged the deal was awarded to the joint venture on the basis of a Treasury regulation that enables departments to carry over or transfer existing contracts, albeit with some conditions. In Gangster State, Myburgh explains the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Blackhead Consulting, Edwin Sodi, as the one who had a similar asbestos deal with the national department and collaborated with the Free State-born Ignatius “Igo” Mpambani who had connections in the province.

Aside from lamenting briefly on the intellect and potential of the 37-year-old deceased co-owner of the joint venture, Mpambani, who was mysteriously gunned down in broad daylight in Sandton, Johannesburg in 2017, Dukwana delved into what makes this deal particularly suspicious.

He questions why the maximum number of homes to be audited was only 300 000, considering the deal was to be carried out throughout the province. He presumes that it is because the focus of the deal was not on the number of homes, but rather on the amount of money available. He says they divided the value of the project by what it would cost to have each home audited, hence the maximum of 300 000 homes.

Dukwana also reveals municipalities – ward councillors, in particular – are the ones that should have information regarding the number of homes in their areas with asbestos roofs, raising eyebrows regarding the necessity of an audit of that magnitude in the first place.

Myburgh has, on the other hand, linked former Premier, Ace Magashule, to the deal via a series of payments made from the joint venture to Mpambani. In it he alleges Mpambani made several payments to Magashule’s allies and affiliates.

Current Head of the Department of Human Settlements, Nthimotse Mokhesi, signed off on the deal and has been named several times during proceedings.


OFM News/Olebogeng Motse